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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

304                                I^IFE   OF
On the 30th of October, Schiller writes again to
Goethe—'" Humboldt has at last written to me from
Munich. He is now steering for Basel, where he will
decide whether he proceeds to Paris or not. He will
therefore scarcely meet you, unless you spend the
winter in Zurich, where he will go if he does not go
to Paris. He describes a large salt-mine., near Berch-
tolsgaden, very amusingly. The Bavarian nation
seems not to please him, but he praises the Minister
of War there, M. Rumford, on account of his very
fine and humane establishments/'
The peace of Campo Formio was signed on the
17th of October; now France was again open to
the German nation, and Humboldt, with his family,
at once proceeded thither. After his arrival, and
during bis stay, his correspondence with Schiller and
Goethe continued with the same vivacity as if they
•were only a few miles distant; and Humboldt seems,
during the first period of his Paris life, only to have
used the new impressions he received, that he might
give a faithful picture of them to the friends he had
left. He described the French spirit and French art
in his long and interesting letters, with fidelity and
Humboldt remained true to his German nature,
azxd to the great interest of German philosophy and
art, far more even than his friends escpected. While
Schiller and Goethe exchanged comments on his
descriptive letters, he wrote, in April 1798, his
aesthetic essays on Goethe's "Hermann and Dorothea"
—i.e» a theory of poesy, and especially of epic poesy,
based on this new masterpiece of the great German
The matter contained in this work had long occu-
pied Humboldt^s attention, and his ideas on the
subject had been elucidated and perfected by commu-
nication with the two poets*
It may appear strange that the enthusiastic admirer
of Schiller's poetry should not have chosen one of the
works of that poet as the basis on which to develope